Sunday, April 05, 2009

Healthcare in Britain and the USA

There is a discussion over on Tom Harris MP's blog about the Tory Daniel Hannan going on Fox News and damning the National Health service.

My response

I lived in the US for 20 years and always had top of the line health insurance. I have AIDS, and the insurance did pay for the care.

But it was employment related. If I lost my job (or resigned, in my case), I lost the "good" insurance. It is true that local programmes picked up the cost of medications, but if these failed, there was no one to pick up hospital costs.

But I was one of the lucky ones, because AIDS activists in the 1980s and 1990s have actually made the situation workable for People with AIDS. But God help you if you get cancer: if you are securely middle class you will find massive "co-payments", your savings destroyed; if you are poor you will only be given pain alleviation. I had one friend in Florida whose 48 year old mother (a non-drinker, not that it matters) had liver cirrhosis. Because she had no insurance, she could not even be put on a transplant list.

Insulin is not a prescription drug in the US, so that poor people with diabetes are supposed to be able to look after themselves with perhaps one visit to an ER or charity doctor in a year.

The sheer amount of fear about illness and the cost of treatment that affects all but the very richest Americans is vast.

And even when you do have insurance, the hospitals are not one jot cleaner or nicer than here.

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